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Cash lost to betting machines fell by nearly HALF last year

Cash lost to betting machines fell by nearly HALF last year – following the introduction of a £2 maximum stake

  • Players used to be able to bet up to £300 per minute on the machines
  • The latest figures, released by the Gambling Commission, shows the scale of the victory achieved by the Daily Mail, which campaigned for the change 
  • Revenue from the machines fell from £1.1billion to £624million between October 2018 and September 2019 

The amount of money lost by gamblers on ‘crack cocaine’ betting machines fell by nearly half last year thanks to the new £2 maximum stake. 

Players used to be able to bet up to £300 per minute on the machines, leading thousands of addicts and their families into destitution. 

The latest figures, released by the Gambling Commission, shows the scale of the victory achieved by the Daily Mail, which campaigned for the change. 

The dramatic reduction in the amount spent on fixed odds betting terminals – FOBTs – was the result of laws which came into force in April last year. 

FOBTs were so addictive that they have been compared to class A drugs 

Revenue from the machines fell from £1.1billion to £624million between October 2018 and September 2019. 

The real decline will eventually be much greater because the figures cover six months when the stake was still £100 per 20-second spin. 

A year earlier, in March 2017, the annual revenue from the controversial machines was a staggering £1.8billion – or £93 for every family in the country. 

FOTBs were so addictive that they have been compared to class A drugs. 

Just under 13 per cent of their users were showing serious signs of harm and addiction, compared to five per cent for sports bets in a shop. The fight to reduce the stake was bitterly fought. 

Culture minister Tracey Crouch resigned after the Conservative government sought to delay bringing in the new stake limit by six months. 

The industry warned that it would have to slash jobs and close betting shops. 

Around 1,000 of the UK’s betting shops have shut on high streets as the new rules accelerated a trend of punters betting on smartphones.

Gamblers are more than twice as likely to become addicted to online slot games, compared to online betting on sports and other events, such as politics

Gamblers are more than twice as likely to become addicted to online slot games, compared to online betting on sports and other events, such as politics

 The FOBTs were so lucrative for gambling companies, some bookmakers set up two or three shops on the same high street to bring in more customers. 

Matt Zarb-Cousin, from Clean Up Gambling, said: ‘This data shows FOBT stake reduction has reduced the volume of losses and resulting harm on the most addictive content on bookies’ machines. 

‘Despite warnings from the sector, there’s been minimal impact on the number of shops and jobs. There is no economic justification to resist stake limits.’ 

Gamblers are more than twice as likely to become addicted to online slot games, compared to online betting on sports and other events, such as politics. 

The new figures also show that the overall size of the gambling industry has levelled off after growing rapidly between 2010 and 2018. 

However, online betting, which is causing the most the reduction has reduced the volume of losses and resulting harm on the most addictive content on bookies’ machines. 

‘Despite warnings from the sector, there’s been minimal impact on the number of shops and jobs. There is no economic justification to resist stake limits.’ 

A group of campaigning MPs is now calling for the same £2 stake to be applied to fixed odds games online – including slot games. 

Carolyn Harris, chairman of the all-party parliamentary group for gambling, said: ‘Thousands of families have been saved from the tragedy of concern among addiction campaigners, continues to rise.

It now accounts for £2.1billion of revenue – the amount of bets placed, minus winnings paid out – each year. 

There was further controversy last month as William Hill and Ladbrokes Coral-owner GVC prepared to reclaim up to £350million from the taxman after bookmakers and casinos won a £1billion legal battle over the tax paid on FOTBs.

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk